President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick Elena Kagan will go before Congress this week, offering lawmakers the opportunity to question her record, her beliefs and whether she can be impartial on the nation’s highest court.
Kagan will be introduced and give her opening statement Monday, beginning 12:30 p.m. EST. Senate Judiciary Committee members will also give an opening Monday, with the question and answer session Tuesday. If confirmed, Kagan will replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
Even as GOP lawmakers are almost certainly preparing for Kagan’s grilling Tuesday, speculation swirling about the nominee has yet to even pin down what her political views are.
Is she a not-so-leftist liberal as painted by the Los Angeles Times? Others apparently believe she’s far outside the mainstream, as a round-up of USA Today points out. And for all that, conservatives are still not united in opposing her appointment.
Kagan, 50, is currently U.S. Solicitor General. But her glaring lack of experience on the bench has been a sticking point for many Senate Republicans. This is notable because it is the Senate that will actually confirm her, as mandated by the Constitution.
According to USA Today:
“Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said: ‘It’s hard to really see what she brings to the life of the Supreme Court … other than her political experience.’
Other conservatives also are leaning toward the ‘no’ column.
Ed Meese, who served as attorney general in the Reagan administration, said in an interview that Kagan is an ‘anti-constitutionalist,’ meaning she ‘feel(s) judges should substitute their own ideas for what the Constitution actually says.'”
Kagan is the former dean of Harvard’s law school and, in her current post, the top appellate lawyer and representative at the Supreme Court. She has no previous experience sitting on the bench though she would not be the first non-judge nominated to the Supreme Court. She was educated at Princeton, Oxford and Harvard Law. She spent time clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall before entering into private practice briefly for two years.
Obama has called GOP criticism of Kagan “pretty thin gruel” and repeatedly praised Kagan’s judgment and intellect.
“’Elena Kagan’s record and her performance in every job that she’s had, what you see is someone with an extraordinarily powerful intellect, somebody with good judgment, somebody who understands the impact that laws have on individual Americans,’ Obama said.
The president told both Democrats and Republicans to bring on the questions, saying they should, ‘ask her tough questions, listen to her testimony, go though the record, go through all the documents that have been provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee and then vote their conscience.'”
Meanwhile, Republican senators are keeping open the possibility of a filibuster — an informal attempt to block the nomination, although Democrats would likely have the 60 votes needed to override it, according to the Wall Street Journal.